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Oklahoma Indians Have High Prevalence of Eye Disorders

Vision impairment, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy common

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Oklahoma Indians have a higher prevalence of eye disorders than many other ethnic groups, investigators report in the December issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology.

Elisa T. Lee, Ph.D., of the Center for American Indian Health Research in Oklahoma City, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional study of 1,019 Oklahoma Indians aged 48 to 82. Of these, 60.2% were women. All subjects participated in interviews and underwent eye examinations that included visual acuity measurements and ophthalmoscopy.

Overall, 77.4% of subjects had a visual acuity of 20/20 or better. Another 19.5% had visual acuities ranging from 20/25 to 20/40, 2.5% had visual acuities between 20/50 and 20/190, and 0.6% were legally blind in the better eye. Visual impairment was most commonly caused by cataracts (39.6%), with age-related macular degeneration taking second place (33.6%). Other causes were diabetic retinopathy (20.1%) and glaucoma (5.6%). Pinguecula was found in 42.4% and dermatochalasis in 30.1%.

The prevalence of eye abnormalities in the Oklahoma Indians was lower than found in blacks but higher than whites and Mexican Americans in other population-based studies, the authors note. The "implementation of adequate treatment and prevention programs for these eye diseases is urgent to reduce visual impairments in this population," they conclude.

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